Agricultural inventions have changed the world for millennia, and we’re currently at a significant turning point in the industry. Despite all of the advancements, there’s still a lot of work to be done. MassChallenge reports that crop yields will need to increase by 70% by 2050 to keep up with global demand. At the same time, farmers face sustainability challenges (like pollution and habitat destruction) that can make scaling production difficult.
To meet these challenges head-on, ag tech conference events gather innovators in one space to share cutting-edge ideas and technology. What are 3 agricultural technology examples that could be discussed at a conference?
- Bee vectoring technologies, which use pollinators to spread trace amounts of pest control powder along with pollen.
- Laser scarecrows, which can reduce crop damage caused by birds by up to 70 to 900%.
- Minichromosome technology, which can increase crops’ resistance to pests and drought without altering their genes.
In this blog, we’ll explore the impact of technology on agriculture, both the positive and the negative. See recent inventions and improvements in farm technology and the effects that show promise of a more sustainable future.
What Is the Positive and Negative Impact of Modern Farming?
Modern farming methods have benefits like higher crop yield, but there are also drawbacks, such as increased chemical pollution. Let’s take a closer look at the positive and negative aspects of advancing farming technologies and where the industry is headed next.
Positive Impacts of Agricultural Technology
The importance of technology in agriculture is that advancements make it easier to feed the world’s population while reducing negative impacts on the environment. The following examples are taken from a Washington Post article that analyzes the impacts of agricultural technology advancements in the Netherlands:
- Higher Crop Yields: Innovative greenhouses use LED lights instead of the sun to grow produce. Paired with water recycling technology, these “vertical farms” can supply 50,000 pounds of fresh produce per day by only taking up space the size of two football fields. Vertical farms rely on outdoor conditions far less than traditional farms, so they can be located in a greater variety of areas. For example, when they’re built near population centers, there’s less food waste during transportation.
- More Access to Food: Advancements in seed technology are making it possible to plant crops in areas with less access to fresh water. This increases the availability of farmable land, especially as climate change increases flooding in coastal regions.
- Reduced Carbon Footprint: Greenhouses rely on energy production to function, which creates excess carbon dioxide as a byproduct. When released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide contributes to climate change. However, advances in technology enable greenhouse farmers to recycle carbon dioxide with 99% efficiency to grow produce, which transforms it into oxygen instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
While there are plenty of positive innovations driving agriculture forward, there’s still a lot of work to be done to make the industry more sustainable.
Negative Effects of Modern Farming
Advancing technology benefits agricultural output, but this increased productivity often comes with an environmental cost.
- Water Depletion: In states like California, agriculture makes up 40% of water usage, according to Forbes. During the ongoing, 22 year long megadrought in the western states, agriculture irrigation continues to deplete wells. Fortunately, American growers are also transitioning to vertical farms, which can reduce water consumption by up to 95%.
- Chemical Pollution: Nitrogen-based fertilizer significantly increases crop yields, but the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that fertilizer runoff negatively impacts aquatic life. Nitrous oxide, another byproduct of nitrogen-based fertilizer and livestock farms, heavily contributes to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Farmers can add woodchip bioreactors to drainage systems to help prevent nitrogen from entering waterways.
- Ecological Disruption: The World Wildlife Foundation reports that unsustainable overfarming practices deplete the nutrients in soil. When crop yields decrease as a result, farmers clear more land, which destroys wildlife habitats and decreases biodiversity. Fortunately, yield-increasing technology can reduce the need for creating more farmland. The BBC reports on “no-till” technology like planters that drop seeds directly into holes. These machines no longer need to overturn soil, which destroys vital microbes.
Fortunately, new technology in agriculture is helping overcome challenges that threaten the sustainability of the industry and the communities that rely on it. See what’s next on the horizon at Rally, the world’s first cross-sector conference that connects agricultural professionals with leaders in related industries.
Become an Early Adopter of Revolutionary AgTech at Rally!
Agriculture is one of the pillars of the global economy, and revolutionary technology has widespread positive effects. But AgTech doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Advancements in related industries, like software and hardtech, can also benefit agricultural practices. That’s why Rally is a cross-sector conference—because innovation doesn’t happen in silos.
At Rally, you’ll be able to collaborate with leaders in the following industries:
- Ag & Food
Meet public policy makers, investors, and people who make s**t (or manure) happen. Register today!